Esstman, Siegal to speak

BY LOIS CAPLAN, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

Some people succumb to adversity while others make the most of it. Suzy Esstman is one of those people. Handed a lemon, she made lemonade. In March of 2004, Suzy was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. An active volunteer in the St. Louis Jewish community and her children’s schools, she had received the 2002 JCC Young Leadership award and in 2005, the JCC Richard Weiss President’s award. Having been asked by Hadassah president Diane Bleyer to speak at Hadassah’s 2006 opening meeting, Suzy felt so honored that she decided to make a contribution to the organization and to all people afflicted with brain tumors. Out of this desire she and friends planned the first annual “Walking on Sunshine” event for June of this year, drawing over 700 participants and raising more than $27,000 for the Neuro-Oncology Department of the Hadassah Hospital in Israel.

That Hadassah opening meeting which inspired the “Walking on Sunshine” event will be held on Tuesday evening, Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. at Maryville University Auditorium, 13550 Conway Road. In their infinite wisdom, Hadassah decided to invite Dr. Tali Siegal, Director of the Leslie and Michael Gaffin Center for Neuro-Oncology Sharett Institute on Oncology, Hadassah Hebrew University Hospital, to join Suzy Esstman as a keynote speaker. Dr. Siegal will talk about the advances in neuro-oncology at the hospital and about the program that will be established to help patients and their families. The creation of this program has been made possible by money raised at “Walking on Sunshine.” The fee for the Aug. 22 program is $18 for Hadassah members and $20 for non-members. For reservations or information, call the Hadassah office at 314-991-0434.

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Dr. Tali Siegal founded the Neuro-Oncology Center at Hadassah Hospital, the first center of this type in Israel. Her extensive medical education includes internships, residencies and fellowships at Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University, Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, a cancer center in Rotterdam, Netherlands and Oregon Health Science University, Portland, Oregon. She is a pioneer of the Blood Brain Barrier Disruption technique in Israel at the Neuro-Oncology Center, the only medical facility outside of the US which is accredited with this technique. Four years ago, Dr. Siegal established a laboratory for molecular diagnosis of brain tumors. It seems to me that if there is anyone in this universe who could help Suzy Esstman, it is Dr. Siegal. Hearing them together, the patient and the doctor seeking a cure, should be an inspirational experience.

Diane Bleyer, past president of the St. Louis Chapter of Hadassah, will be honored at the opening meeting with the Hadassah National Leadership Award. Under Diane’s leadership, the chapter exceeded all membership and fundraising goals, raising nearly $1 million and welcoming over 200 new members. During her tenure as president, the St. Louis chapter became a leading voice in the debate for stem cell advocacy in the state of Missouri and was awarded “Best Chapter” in Hadassah’s Great Plains Region. Diane comes from a very long line of Hadassah members; in fact, she is a part of a four generation family which spans 94 years of membership.

What an experience Hadassah is offering: Suzy Esstman’s message of motivation and inspiration and Dr. Siegel’s report on promising medical treatments and research on brain tumors at Hadassah Hospital.